Van Bommel: ‘International Criminal Court must be strengthened’

24 May 2013

Van Bommel: ‘International Criminal Court must be strengthened’

The International Criminal Court (ICC) must be strengthened. This was the conclusion to which SP Member of Parliament Harry van Bommel came today, following a working visit to the Court in The Hague. In Van Bommel’s assessment the credibility of this important institution will be at risk should no more staff and financial resources be allocated to it. ‘The ICC has reached the limits of its present capacity,’ says Van Bommel. ‘It would be scandalous if in the near future this were to mean that no more cases could be taken on.’

harry van bommelCurrently, 122 countries are affiliated to the ICC and investigations are being carried out into people in eight countries. During his visit Van Bommel spoke with Vice-president Sanji Monageng, court registrar Herman von Hebel and Fabio Rossi from the Prosecutor’s Office, as well as others. ‘What I learned from these conversations is that the success of the ICC has come to be seen as a threat,’ says Van Bommel. ‘With investigations into eight countries and as many preliminary inquiries in other countries, the Court has an urgent need for more investigators. As things stand there are sixty, which is far too few, and the time is fast approaching when the Court will have to say “no” when new cases are brought by member states or by the UN Security Council. This would mean that an act of genocide or a crime against humanity could remain unpunished, and that’s hard to swallow.’

During the talks Van Bommel was also informed of problems brought about by the Dutch government. The government’s intention to close the prison in nearby Scheveningen is causing difficulties, for example, as the ICC was intending to move there in 2015. ‘Having a prison in the vicinity is necessary for reasons of security,’ Van Bommel points out. ‘Suspects are for the most part formerly highly-placed figures with access to violent supporters, and they have to appear repeatedly in the courtroom of the ICC. You can’t transport defendants such as these over long distances. Another problem concerns the arrival of witnesses in our country. The Netherlands is hardly willing to allow them to stay long enough in our country as may be necessary for the trial.’

Van Bommel intends to put pressure on the government to offer more support to the ICC and will ask for practical solutions to make the Court’s future work possible. ‘For me this is an additional reason not to close the prison in Scheveningen,’ he says. ‘The Hague is keen to be the world’s judicial capital, so we need also the finishing touch, and that’s the prison.’

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